In Egypt, apparently even pyramids can be recycled.
Archaeologists from the country's Supreme Council of Antiquities said this week that they had discovered a cache of 30 mummies dating from the country's 26th Dynasty in a tomb constructed during the 6th Dynasty nearly 2,000 years earlier.
The 26th Dynasty was the last period of rule by Egyptian pharaohs before the country was conquered by the Persians and other foreigners, a time when it was becoming more difficult for rulers to muster the manpower necessary for more grandiose burial sites.
The 6th Dynasty pyramid is actually a mastaba tomb -- a simpler precursor to a pyramid -- of a man named Sennedjem. It is located in Saqqara, about 12 miles south of Cairo, the final resting place of most of the Egyptian rulers who lived in the Old Kingdom capital of Memphis.
The new cache was discovered at the end of a 36-foot shaft drilled into the side of the tomb during the 26th Dynasty. Zahi Hawass, head of the council and director of the expedition, said the team had found 24 mummies in niches along the walls of the chamber and on shelves along one wall. Some of the mummies were of children and one was of a dog. All were badly decomposed, indicating that they had not been adequately prepared for burial.
The team also found two sarcophagi of fine white limestone and four wooden coffins. One sarcophagus was still sealed.
Hawass said that when he opened it, he found a body mummified in the style typical of the 26th Dynasty, covered in linen and resin. He said the mummy would be temporarily removed for a CT scan because there may be funerary amulets hidden among the wrappings.
An inscription on the coffin identified the occupant as Padi-Heri, son of Djehuty-sesh-nub and grandson of Iru-ru. It gave no information about his station in life, but the fact that he was buried in a coffin made of limestone from Thebes suggested he was very wealthy, Hawass said.